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Gallery’s First National Juried Exhibition Offers Plenty to Ponder

An atmosphere of awe, delight and curiosity filled The Gallery at Penn College on Thursday evening for the opening reception of “Books Undone: The Art of Altered Books,” the gallery’s first-ever national juried exhibition. A large crowd enjoyed perusing the imaginative creations, listening to an artist’s talk, and celebrating the pieces honored with prizes.

“Books Undone” opens eyes to the artistry of altered books.
“Books Undone” opens eyes to the artistry of altered books.

“The quality of the work in this exhibition is really exciting to see,” said Sue O’Donnell, the prize juror. “I was especially impressed with the skill and variety of altered books in the show. It was not easy selecting what to recognize – everything in this show is deserving. In the end, I found myself returning to certain pieces – pieces that use the book as a point of departure to examine a deeper, more personal topic. I had to trust my instinct and ultimately chose work that resonated with layers of meaning for me and that provided insight into the artist’s head and life.”

Brenda Oelbaum’s “Results May Vary” was honored with the first-place award, with Deborah Stabley’s “History Repeats Itself” and Mary Larsen’s “Beauty Remains,” receiving second- and third-place awards, respectively. Honorable mentions were awarded to “Great Expectations: Loosely Knit,” by Gregg Silvis; “The Good Girl,” by Susan Lenz; and “Exorcism of Page 13,” by Caryl Burtner. Oelbaum, of Dexter, Michigan; Stabley, of Muncy; and Silvis, of Newark, Delaware, were among the artists able to attend the reception, in addition to O’Donnell, from Bloomsburg.

The “Books Undone” exhibition, implemented entirely by The Gallery at Penn College, received over 190 submissions by 84 artists from 28 states. That exceptional collection was then narrowed down to 58 pieces created by 27 artists from 20 states being showcased through Feb. 28.

The exhibit can be viewed during gallery hours: 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays. The gallery, on the third floor of the Madigan Library, is closed Saturdays and Mondays.

A companion display of student and faculty artistry, “Old Books/New Lives: The Art of Upcycling,” is presented on the first floor of the library.

– Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor


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